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A Rudge Rally Story

My darling husband said to me one night 'why don't you come to the Rudge Rally. Firstly for someone who does not like camping of any sort I immediately said 'no'. He then persuaded me by saying I will get a luxury caravan put on site when we arrive I then thought why not?  I would give it a go!

So we packed up took Molly and Tulip our bassets and off we went to Stow. When we arrived all looked good, and we put up the awning to the caravan without any domestic fallout I said the immortal words 'this is lovely'.

Well that is when it all went away the heavens opened for the whole weekend. With the rain battling down on the caravan with the thinnest mattress I have experienced. Alistair said 'it will be better tomorrow' well sadly that did not happen!

On the Saturday Volker who was in a tent next to us had a barbecue. Tulip our basset got in his tent and stole his baguette in her mouth. While Molly was licking his barbecue thoroughly!!!!! I still do not understand German!! Sunday came and the fields turned to mud cars and bikes got stuck, you had a job to walk. For me enough was enough, the dogs jumped into the car. We packed up and went home with a lot of soggy kit!

If you ask me would I go camping again the answer would emphatically be no.!! However, we did go to the rally again and stayed in a lovely hotel.
We had a lovely time and met our dear friends Dante and Luciana from Italy. The Rudge Rally is a very well organised event with members attending from all over the world to celebrate the Rudge motorcycle.


Boomerang Farm - Restoring my fathers race bike

I am restoring a 1938 Rudge 250 sports which was originally owned and raced by my father in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was a regular competitor at the Boomerang Farm race track on the north side of Sydney. Below are some pictures and the story behind them.

My dad, Doug Baker opened a motorcycle shop on Sydney’s north side in 1946, after returning from the war where he served in the RAAF, always a keen motorcyclist and a qualified fitter and turner the business grew and served the area well for 48 years when he retired. He was one of the founding members of the Manly Warringah Motorcycle Club, and served as president for many years.

They operated a race track called Boomerang Farm from approx 1946 to 1956, from memory they had a meeting once a month, and dad was always a competitor, he only ever raced at local meetings throughout the Sydney area, he would transport the Rudge in an Indian Chief with a large side box, I was able to squeeze in beside it, can still remember the sound of the Rudge as it had an open megaphone, beautiful sound as it came down the straight, dad passed away in 1998 and the Rudge was in storage for a number of, but is being restored now as a memory to dad and will be put on display in a local bike museum.

Hope you found this interesting.

Tony Baker

A good run

In St Helens there were 3 motorcycle shops in the early 70's. Of these Tom Collins was by far the best and most interesting. They had 3 premises near to each other. On Boundary Road they had new bikes, accessories and clothing. Further on past the Bottom Nags (pub at the bottom of the hill  named after the Nags head at the top) and Stroppy Lil's chip shop they had a used bike showroom with a workshop at the back, and opposite on Kitchener street they had parts.

We'd often go after school to check out the latest used bikes and the bikes parked up outside the spares. I was 17 and I ached to have a bike of my own. My 50p a week paper round had funded a moped and then a Honda C100 step through, but I simply had to have a proper motorbike.
It didn't help that my best mate was given an almost new Starfire for his 17th birthday. Of course his dad had a carpet shop and a Humber Snipe. We were a 1 parent family with a very different budget. If I were to get a bike I'd have to do something different.

If I sold my paper round bicycle and scraped all my funds together I had about £30. Scouring the ads produced nothing that cheap. So 
I started hanging around Tom Collins workshop making a nuisance of myself with the mechanics there. What I really wanted was a weekend job, but there was nothing doing. 
'What's in those boxes ?' It was a Tiger Cub stripped down to parts. I begged, pleaded and finally bought the lot for £25. I was a happy boy ! There was nothing major missing and fortunately for such an inexperienced machanic as me, nothing major wrong with it either. Yet it had been comprehensively dismantled. It took six or seven trips back and forth to carry this lot home (no car in our household) and then I stored it all away in my 'workshop'. Actually this was just a glazed conservatory on the back of our Victorian terraced house about five feet wide with shelving for my mum's plants. The plants went to fend for themselves in the yard while I started to try to work out how to put this bike together.

The Haynes manual was helpful and over the next few months I bought the tools and spares as the bike took shape. In retrospect I only really painted and assembled the bike but it still felt like an achievement. I painted the petrol tank, oil tank and side panel luminous orange because I was 17. I had to wait two weeks to save to buy a battery. Finally one day I realised that although I didn't have a kickstart cotter pin, the bike should start.

I knew nothing about bump starting a motorbike but what could possibly go wrong ? There was a narrow entry that ran behind our house. It was only about 30 yards until it met a road but that would be enough surely. I switched it on, tickled the carb, put it in 1st gear and pulled in the clutch (a novel feature to me). I pushed it at a decent pace and let go of the clutch. My excitement at the fact that it started was quickly replaced by sheer terror. I was a good sprinter at school but this bike set off like Usain Bolt.

I could only just keep up. The main road was approaching and I had no choice but to cross it into another entry. Luckily I got away with it. The relief of not being hit by a car enabled me to think for the first time - why not pull in the clutch ? What a good idea ! It worked of course and I could catch my breath while the engine raced on a very high idle. I don't think I ever covered a hundred yards as quick as that. I should have turned the engine off and pushed it back, but I was 17 ! I had to drive around the block and I wasn't going to let my lack of license, insurance, or helmet stop me.

Of course it was marvellous to sample the brute power that only 200cc could supply. I was utterly hooked. It was a life sentence. Thrills like that only come around now and again. A year later the Cub got nicked, I inherited some money and bought a beautiful 1954 A10 with a Monza sidecar to pass my test on. But that's another story.


My first bike

It must have been 1949 when, aged 16, l bought my first motorbike, a 1936 bronze head Ulster. I had no license to ride it and it was a wreck in The Motor Mart, a second hand motor dealers yard, in St Pancras, Chichester. I walked it home over a mile away and was confronted by an angry father who understood the potency of a Rudge Ulster and threatened to destroy it in order to prevent me killing myself if l ever made it go.

The bike really was in poor condition with a badly damaged clutch, scored bore and worn big end. I marvelled at the complexity of the semi radial needle roller grease lubricated rockers. All this was discovered while stripping down, cleaning and painting and saving pocket money for the necessary new parts. My older brother helped and my father became less discouraging as we agreed to sell the machine when repaired.

Godfreys supplied parts COD via the post office. A wonderfully simple process and within the next year we had the crankshaft rebuilt, new cut away piston, and rebored pot. A former Chichester motorcycle garage rebuilt the crankshaft simply done with a big vice and hammer, a big spanner and V blocks.
Being impatient hooligans we started the engine without pipes and the mighty roar and flames startled us and the neighbours.

My father had become quite interested in the project by completion and took me for a ride as pillion which convinced me sale of the bike was to be avoided at all costs. As my brother was away in the RAF l became sole owner and insured third party with Norwich Union. My first ride was exhilarating and carefully undertaken. The Chichester By-pass was, at that time, single carriageway with a nasty bump where it crossed the Chichester Canal just before the Stockbridge traffic lights. I remember finding air between saddle and me for one frightening moment at no more than 4o mph and that fright convinced me l had a lot to learn.

At that time CMW motors,owned by two ex army mechanics, was situated in the village of Lavant, north of chichester and when l called in l was greeted by Alan (Mac) Morgan who was a lifelong Rudge man. He took my bike for a ride up Lavant Straight and we were pals from there on. He raced a 1930 Ulster in the Brighton Speed Trials and learned to alloy weld extra metal on the piston to increase compression ratio.

I had several years riding the Rudge passing my test on it and selling it later only to buy another broken down 1931 Ulster locally from a dealers shed down the road. That Ulster cost seven pounds ten and was missing its dynamo and headlight but that is another story.

Nothing quite like the burble of an Ulster engine on a cold frosty morning at 50 mph carefully adjusting the advance and retard lever to get it just right.

Ken Adams

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